Grooming Standards v. Religious Beliefs

May 5th, 2012 by JBWK

Religious accommodation is one of the thorniest areas of Title VII, causing near-constant confusion. A recent EEOC settlement, however, helps to highlight a good example of what not to do.

A North Carolina company operating Taco Bell franchises settled an EEOC charge based on its treatment of a Nazirite employee. He had not cut his hair in years, asserting his sincerely held religious beliefs prohibited it. The company told him to cut his hair or he would be fired. He refused.

The dispute settled with some money changing hands and the company agreeing to certain practices. But it’s a helpful illustration of a case with an easy accommodation to the company’s grooming policy would have eliminated the problem altogether without causing an undue hardship on the company.

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